Father tells of fatal gang-rape victim’s courage, determination to be a doctor

Published: January 2, 2013

RAHUL BEDI AND ROB CRILLY 
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Indian women offer prayers for the victim of a vicious gang rape Dec. 16 at Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2013. Dar Yasin/AP

The father of the Delhi gang-rape victim has described his “brave” daughter’s dream of becoming a doctor in an emotional first interview.

Speaking in the family’s ancestral village, he remembered a kind, compassionate young woman dedicated to her studies. The 23-year-old woman, who has not been named, died on Saturday after suffering horrific injuries during an hour-long assault by a gang on board a bus on Dec. 16.

The story shocked India, revealing a sordid side to the country where women face constant harassment and sexual assaults are frequently ignored by police. A day after he helped to scatter his daughter’s ashes on the Ganges, the father spoke alongside one of his sons. “She was brave, had no fear, and was full of life,” he told the BBC’s Hindi service. “She studied day and night. We would not even know when she slept and woke up.”

A stubborn streak helped to propel his daughter from the ranks of the lower middle class into higher education.

“My daughter was very adamant on whatever she wanted. When she used to go to school in class four [ages nine and 10] there was a sweetshop on the way and if she made up her mind to have a sweet even the shopkeeper had to relent,” he said, breaking down with emotion at times.

“The same happened in her higher education and she was doing what she wanted. I remember asking her once, ‘Who are your friends?’ She replied, ‘Dad, it’s only my books I am friends with’. She always wanted to be a doctor and was sure about it. That’s why we moved from this rural place to Delhi – to give our children a better future.”

The family even sold some of its land to fund her education when the girl refused to compromise on her dream.

“I told her repeatedly that I could not fund her education, but she did not budge,” said her father.

One of the victim’s two younger brothers described the night they received the telephone call telling them his sister had been in an “accident”.

“She was not scared of anyone,” he said. “We could never imagine that such a fate would befall her.”

Fresh details of the attack emerged yesterday as police prepared to submit a 1,000-page report to a district court.

It describes how the gang tried to run over the woman after dumping her from the bus, according to accounts published in Indian newspapers. Her boyfriend managed to pull her to safety just in time. However, her family disputed reports that they were due to marry.

Such is the anger over the case that lawyers say they will not defend the six suspects charged with rape and murder.

Britain yesterday warned tourists to stay out of Delhi’s city centre, where protests are being held almost every day. The Foreign Office said: “You should avoid the city centre until the situation becomes clearer and be careful to avoid any demonstrations, which could turn violent.”

The warning provoked an angry reaction from Indian politicians, who said the city was safe and accused Britain of meddling in its affairs.

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